New York City. Concrete jungle that dreams are made of, the city that never sleeps, the Big Apple, and the BEST place to run. For all its skyscrapers and busy people, I have never felt as free whilst running as I do in New York. And that comes from a country girl! I can’t put my finger on exactly what draws me back to this vibrant city time and time again, but perhaps that’s just it. It’s unexplainable. Magical even. And I am totally under the spell.
Last month I was lucky enough to spend ten days in New York, giving me plenty of time to explore some of my favourite running routes.
The Central Park Loop (Approx. 6 miles)
The thing I love most about Central Park is how varied it is. Heading uptown on the east side, you run past The Met and The Guggenheim, then past the huge reservoir and up to Harlem. By this point the throng of people have disappeared and it’s easy to forget you are still in one of the busiest cities in the world.
The North Woods are secluded with windy, hilly nature trails that feel like you are in the mountains somewhere. Then, as you run back down the West Drive, you are treated to some of the most spectacular views of the city, particularly over the water as you pass the reservoir again. The final section takes you past The Tavern on the Green and back to the hustle and bustle of the city. There’s an easy runners path to follow, so you don’t have to think about where you’re going leaving you totally free to soak up everything around you.
Whilst you’re passing the lake I highly recommend a detour down West 74th Street to Levain Bakery. There is nearly always a line (seemingly it’s not just us Brit’s who like a good queue), but the cookies at the ends are well worth the wait. Served warm, they are the PERFECT combination of crumbly, but soft, crisp, but gooey. My dark chocolate chip was definitely as ‘crave worthy’ as described. And by the way, the picture does not do it justice.
Riverside Park (5 miles)
Have you ever been running along and just felt so happy, so peaceful and so content that you feel like you’re the lead in your own musical? It’s such a strong feeling that it’s physical. Like, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was actually emitting some sort of glowing light that other people could see. Please tell me you’ve felt this felt this and I’m not just weird! Anyway, that’s the best way to describe how I felt during this run.
Riverside Park is a bit further north than I usually run, but what I love about it, is it has so many quirky features and sculptures that you never know what you’re going to stumble on next. I imagine it would be stunning with the blossom trees in full bloom in springtime. Having said that, watching the sun set over the Hudson was also pretty spectacular.
These three pictures aren’t edited in any way. The natural lighting as the sun set, was magical. How can tower blocks and scaffolding be so pretty? New York, you NEVER stop surprising me.
Finishing on west 49th street, just a stones throw from Junior’s, you’d be mad not to get a piece of cheesecake. I’m not really a cheesecake fan in the UK, it’s often quite heavy and gloopy. Junior’s however, is out of this world. There are so many flavours, but from my (somewhat vast) tasting experience, you cannot better the original NY plain. Light, fluffy and creamy, but with American portion sizes, I’d definitely consider sharing.
The High Line and West Village (Approx 7.25 miles)
The one where I went on a mission to find the friends building!
I started this run along the High Line, almost a mile and a half of 1930’s elevated rail line now converted into a garden pathway with great views over parts of the city. Then meandered down Bleecker Street lined with it’s boutique shops and eateries. The West Village is entirely different to the rest of Manhattan. The ‘off the grid’ residential streets are quiet, with small independent shops and far fewer cars. The reason that it commands some of the highest property prices anywhere in the world.
Nestled on the corner of Grove Street and Bedford Street, is the friends building. Now, I know that most of the series is filmed on set in LA, but being a child of the 90’s, for almost 10 years I grew up with friends. As I ran past I had a sudden urge to run like Phoebe, and I’m going to let you in on a secret. I don’t know anyone in New York, so I did! For 10 glorious seconds, in honour of Phoebe, I ran like a child! And it was great. Then I put my sensible head back on and trotted up the Hudson river path back to the hotel as if nothing had ever happened.
Drop down from the High Line to visit Chelsea Market. You won’t be sorry. It’s got great atmosphere and a huge variety of food stalls and restaurants. From matcha to noodles, donuts to pizza, everything is fresh and made in front of you. If you’re anywhere near as indecisive as me, the only difficulty you face is choosing what you want from so many options! In the end I went for a slice of sourdough pizza from Filaga and topped it off with some amazing hazelnut swirl gelato from Le’Arte Del Gelato. Both were scrumptious.
It’s hard to put into words how much I love New York. From the very first time I visited, it’s always felt like home, but despite this, with every trip there’s still something new. My husband calls them ‘New York moments’. Like the time we came out of a restaurant and bumped straight into Hugh Jackman. Or the time Helen Mirren got into the car in front of us. The more I see of it, there more there is to love. So if you get the chance, I’d highly recommend spending the time to judge it for yourself.